Garry Southwick was 66 when he found himself suddenly unemployed after the company he had worked for, for over 17 years, went into administration during COVID-19.
He began claiming universal credit while looking for a new job and came across the opportunity to take part in the Work 4 Health Programme, run in collaboration with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, whg, Walsall College and the Department of Work and Pensions.
The programme offers the opportunity to support retraining for unemployed people, many made redundant as a result of the pandemic, and to offer opportunities within Walsall that will lead to substantive employment at the Manor Hospital.
Garry was successful in gaining a place on the programme and went onto secure a support services assistant role with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
“Having worked for over five decades as an engineer within the steelmaking and forging industries I didn’t expect to be starting a new career in the NHS at 66,” he said.
“I wasn’t ready to retire and was searching for and applying for jobs I was qualified to do when I came across the opportunity to retrain and work for the NHS. My wife had actually been doing the support services role it was referring to for 17 years before she retired so already knowing a bit about the role from her made me think ‘why not?’”
Garry attended an information session which was delivered by whg and Walsall College explaining in detail the job role, the college modules and how he could apply for a place.
He was successful in gaining a place on the course and went onto complete a two-week level 2 health and hygiene qualification which included a one day placement at Walsall Manor Hospital shadowing a member of staff.
Since starting his role, Garry has been enjoying his new work routine and career.
He added: “I don’t think my age has held me back from wanting to work and being motivated by what I do. Having never worked in a hospital setting before, I have a newfound understanding of what my wife did and a new sense of pride in what I do each day. It’s satisfying to close the door on a freshly cleaned theatre.
“This is a temporary role for six months but I’m confident that with my new found skills and experience I will be able to apply for other vacancies that come up in the near future.”